Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Clark/Bruce, Ollie/Dinah, Alfred, Dick, Miramee Teague
Series Notes: In the 23rd century, Earth is a technologically-advanced society that practices the ancient institution of slavery. As Bruce and Clark try and adjust to being lovers as well as Master and slave, on a warm spring night a new member of the Wayne Household is added: a little boy whom Bruce sadly identifies with. Dick Grayson further pushes Bruce along the path of Abolitionism as the child brings further Light into the Manor. The entire series can be found here.
Genres: Drama, AU
Rating: (this chapter): G
Summary: The Pretty Bird learns more about the future Little Bird when she takes him into town.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): October 12, 2007
Date Of Posting: July 15, 2008
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 1758
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
The Pretty Bird knows
The Little Bird’s joy,
The Pretty Bird knows
He’s a special little boy.
Marion Zimmer Grayson
“Tales of the Starchild”
BIRDS OF A FEATHER
(NOT QUITE? OH, JUST RIGHT!)
Dinah awoke, luxuriating in the sensation of silk sheets on her bare skin. She liked the lifestyle of the rich and famous, and it was a nice contrast to the grittier life she led as Black Canary.
Ollie snored lightly beside her in the big, comfortable bed. She groaned at the numbers on the digital clock beside the bed. Damn her early meeting! She rubbed scratchy eyes.
She lay in bed for ten more minutes, then slipped out without disturbing Ollie. She padded to the bathroom at the end of the hall, showered, dressed and put on her make-up.
As she headed for the main staircase, the door to the master bedroom opened.
“Bruce! You’re early.”
Bruce glanced over his shoulder and closed the door quietly. “Good morning, Dinah.” He was endearingly mussed, clad in a black silk robe. “I need a favor.”
“Ask away, my Prince.”
Bruce smiled, running a hand through his hair. “Ollie and I need to…strategize. Would you mind taking Dick with you to town?”
“I’d be delighted.”
Relieved, Bruce said, “Good. Alfred could keep him busy here but I’d like him to get off the estate. He needs a change of scenery.”
“I’ll take good care of him, Bruce.”
“Thank you, Dinah. I know you will.” Bruce lightly kissed her on the cheek. “You’ve a luv.”
Laughing, Dinah headed down to the kitchen.
In that sunny room, she was greeted by Alfred. “Good morning, Miss Lance. What would you like for breakfast?”
“Waffles, and strawberries if you have any, please.”
“Excellent. Please be seated.”
A few minutes later Dick appeared in jeans and a yellow sweatshirt. He hesitated when he saw Dinah.
“Please, sit,” she said cheerfully.
Dick obeyed, smiling as Alfred told him that waffles and strawberries were available. He shyly looked down at his plate, but looked up as Dinah spoke to him.
“I’m taking you with me into town for my meeting. I need you to take notes and to watch reactions for me.”
Dinah nodded as she sipped her cranberry juice. “Yes, sometimes a second pair of eyes can see things one person might miss. I need you to be a discreet observer.”
Dick looked intrigued. Dinah hid her smile as she took another sip of juice. This boy was bright, and would be useful. She had no problem taking care of him.
& & & & & &
Brendan drove them into town. He parked right outside of Sherwood Florist. A smiling brunette woman greeted them, wearing a squash-colored silk dress. Turquoise beads and a turquoise-and-silver bracelet attracted Dinah and Dick’s attention.
“They’re Navajo pieces,” said Miramee Teague, a slight musical lilt to her voice.
“How lovely,” said Dinah. Noticing Dick’s interest, she said, “Have you ever see jewelry like this before, Richard?”
Dick was pleased at the use of the more formal name, keeping his own name private.
“No, Mistress.” He studied the bracelet. “But as you say, it’s pretty work.”
“Come in, Ms. Lance. The store is looking wonderful for tomorrow’s Grand Opening.”
Dinah approved of the flower displays in the two large storefront windows, and was pleased at the interior arrangements. Tables and glass cases displayed floral wares, and she was glad that the yellow-painted walls made a cheerful background.
Miramee discussed the stock, Dinah inquiring about local plants.
“And here is our ceramics section.” Miramee led Dinah and Dick to an adjoining room filled with figurines, pottery, and cookware. Dinah noticed how much more had been done since her short visit last night.
“Ah, I see you have the art set up.” Dinah walked to a corner of the room that featured paintings, sculptures, and garden items.
“Yes, the local artists I contacted were delighted to fulfill the flower/garden theme.”
Dick took notes on some of the art, writing about the styles he saw. At eight years old, he wasn’t about to write a dissertation but Dinah noticed that he was able to write down the main features of each piece.
“I approve of the art.” Dinah was especially taken with a handpainted plate.
The yellow canary was very well done, attracting Dinah for obvious reasons. She picked it up and studied the bright colors.
“You like birds?” Dick asked softly.
Dinah smiled. “Very much.” She put the plate back and looked into bright, inquisitive eyes. “I have some finances to discuss with Miramee. Why don’t you stay here and enjoy the display?”
& & & & & &
When Dinah returned, she found Dick looking at a painting of a majestic hawk soaring over a valley.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” Dinah said softly.
“How about we got to the park to see the real thing, and then get some lunch?”
Dick smiled, Dinah pleased at the sunshine.
& & & & & &
Dinah and Dick did some birdwatching, the boy happy to be out in the fresh air. He was subdued at times, but Dinah chalked that up to a boy still trying to deal with his grief.
From this morning together, she had formed an opinion of Bruce’s young Squire. She saw a bright boy with that brightness applied to intelligence and personality. An obedient child, he radiated with energy when it wasn’t sublimated by his sadness.
Dinah was determined to try and make him forget his grief, at least for a little while. She knew that many freemen cared nothing for a slave’s grief, but she couldn’t take that attitude. Like with Melody, her own Squire, she felt the need to nurture and help, manacles or not.
Dick burned off some energy running around, returning to Dinah who was pleased to see his happiness.
“How about some lunch?”
“That sounds great, Mistress!”
Dinah chuckled and ruffled Dick’s hair as he beamed.
& & & & & &
Dinah had chosen an Italian restaurant. The smells of good Italian cooking wafted from the kitchen every time the door swung open.
“Would you like pizza or spaghetti or veal parmesan? Or anything else on the menu?”
Dick scanned the menu. “I’d like the ziti with roasted red pepper sauce.”
“No bland palate for you!”
Dick giggled. “You learn about all kinds of spicy food in the circus.”
“Oh, Hungarian stew and jalapeno sauce and Romanian dishes.”
“Did everyone share recipes?”
“Yeah! Mom cooked vegetable soup that used red peppers, and she crushed them up and put them in our tomato sauce, too. And Dad grilled steak with jalapenos.”
“Mmm, spicy is right!”
Dick became subdued, sadness shadowing his eyes. “I…miss those meals.” He lowered his eyes.
And his parents.
Dinah gently touched the little boy’s hand. “It’s okay, Dick.”
Dick wiped his eyes. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be.” She lifted his chin. “It’s okay to grieve.”
He sniffled and Dinah handed him a tissue. He wiped his eyes again and said softly, “Thank you.”
The waitress took their orders, and Dick smiled shakily after she left. “I need to teach Alfred some spicy recipes.”
Dinah laughed. “Alfred’s always up for new recipes.”
“He is.” Dinah sipped her glass of icewater. “Sounds like you’re settling in at the Manor.”
“I am.” Dick smiled. “I like Alfred and Clark a lot. They’re really nice.”
“And your Master is good to you?”
Dinah watched Dick carefully. Most slaves usually shuttered their true feelings when talking to freemen about their Masters, and with good reason.
Dinah thought she saw a shade of wariness in the boy’s blue eyes, but he smiled again and said, “He’s very good to me, and to Alfred and Clark, too.”
“He’s a good man.”
Dick nodded. “And the estate is wonderful! Master Bruce lets me roam all around, and he’s got a trapeze!”
Dinah noticed how Dick’s eyes lit up at mention of the trapeze. She laughed and said, “Keeps you in practice, eh?”
Dick nodded vigorously. “I’m a good flyer, Mistress Dinah. I’m not afraid up there.”
“Good.” If the boy wore a costume, he would fit right in with her and Green Arrow. “You should always keep your skills up. You never know when you might need them.”
Lunch arrived and Dinah felt relaxed. Dick was easy to be with, the Mistress/slave dynamic still there, but not as much of a barrier as she usually encountered.
“Your Grand Opening is tomorrow?” he asked as he drank his Coke.
“Yes.” Dinah’s cellphone rang. “Lance here. Oh, hello, Miramee. Yes, I can stop by the shop again. I’ll see you in an hour.” She flipped the phone shut. “We’ll stop at the shop on our way home.”
Dick nodded, concentrating on his ziti.
& & & & & &
Dinah was pleased at the new shipment of hothouse roses.
“These are beautiful, Miramee.”
“Aren’t they?” Miramee gave a sigh of happiness. “These will give the shop a real draw tomorrow.”
Dinah plucked out a yellow rose and handed it to Dick. Delighted, he took the gift and inhaled its scent deeply.
Dinah lightly caressed his hair. “I’m glad the old heirloom scents are making a comeback. A pretty flower without substance is beautiful to look at, but still empty without scent.”
Dicks’ eyes sparkled as he nodded.
“Dick, pick out a large bouquet of differently-colored roses. I wish to thank Bruce for his hospitality.”
As Dick happily set about his task, Dinah and Miramee wrapped up the details of the shipment. By the time they had finished, Dick had gathered an impressive bouquet of roses: yellow, green, red, white, pink, and blue. The green and blue roses had been bred in the last century.
“Mmm, a nice combination. Put them in a water container, will you, please, Miramee?”
Dick offered Dinah his datapad. “I have your notes, Mistress.”
“Thank you, dear. Hold on to them until we get home. I’ll read them there.”
Dick nodded, clutching his rose.
Miramee returned with the large container and a small vial of water.
“Here, dear, let’s put your rose in this vial.”
“Thank you.” Dick watched as Miramee put the rose into the water-filled vial.
Dinah was pleased at his sensitivity. It reminded her of her own Squire, and she felt a surge of protectiveness.
This boy-o needs to be kept safe.
She put an arm around his shoulders as they headed for the limousine.